know that the old adage, ‘innocent until proven guilty’ doesn’t count for much
any more, but being subject to legal sanctions after being found innocent is a
new one on me. The incredibly unjust situation is one that Olly Cromwell
finds himself in and all because he irked Bexley council by filming their
meeting just as Eric Pickles, the minister,
said he should. He was critical of
a few councillors, as well he might be, and for that they called the police. A charge of harassment
was trumped up for which no evidence could be found (the things he was accused
of doing were done by others) and he was found not guilty.
After that fiasco he was charged with typing the ‘c’ word, not directed at a generally identifiable person, just part of a rhetorical question to his followers on Twitter. To make a silly comment sound like a crime councillors Melvin Seymour and Sandra Bauer cobbled together a story for the police which at best was an exaggeration based on a misunderstanding but more likely is a lie carefully constructed to pervert the course of justice. Fundamentally Olly is due in court because Bexley council doesn’t like being criticised and councillor Melvin Seymour told the police that Olly was encouraging the posting of dog faeces through his letter box and revealed his address to facilitate that activity. He did neither. Melvin Seymour must know that by now yet he remains silent about it. I’m practically certain that Sandra Bauer does. In the circumstances you would be forgiven if the words perjury and liar came to mind.
Olly’s trial at Greenwich Magistrates’ Court, currently set for 10:00 on Friday 13th April 2012 is beginning to take shape on paper. One item is outrageous. “Please find attached a draft Restraining Order which the Crown intend to apply for be it a guilty or not guilty finding”. Its intention is made clear. “Protecting the persons listed in the Schedule from harassment”. Olly, you may remember, has already been found not guilty of harassment. How come he is to be formally banned from something he has never been guilty of? And worse, why does the proposed Restraining Order compel him to remove alleged harassment from his website retrospectively when he is legally innocent of putting any there in the first place?
Another aspect of the order is that he cannot contact anyone listed on the Schedule which, because you have probably guessed whose names are listed, will effectively disenfranchise him from the democratic process, a step some way beyond banning him from council premises for enthusiastically embracing government policy on transparency and open government.
The names on the Schedule number 63 and bear a remarkable similarity to those listed here. Presumably a Restraining Order will expire when that shower of self-serving dictators and money grabbing charlatans are voted out of office. I wonder if the 63 are aware of what is being done in their names?
Note 17th August 2012. At an appeal hearing where both Seymour and Bauer were called as witnesses and cross examined it became clear that it was Seymour who had dishonestly exaggerated the content of the Tweet in order to attempt a miscarriage of justice and Bauer had merely sent him a copy and took no part in its embellishment.